Monday, December 8, 2008
At some points, reading the personal essays on loss becomes uncomfortable. Everyone deals with grief and loss in his or her own way because each experience is different. Each person who dies was different, and each person they left behind has his or her own past, and way of coping. Richards' experience with her grandmother, whom she lost before she was actually dead is, of course, quite separate from those who mourned the loss of the victims of the workplace shootings, or the mothers who were taken from their children. While Sedaris' mother is incredibly similar to my grandmother, whom I lost in late October, my experience in having lost her, or anticipating her passing was quite different than his. On the other hand, Strayed's account of allowing loss to ruin her life reveals some of the deepest emotions and indulgences. Loss can change a person so profoundly that they can never regain a sense of self. Fear of loss can be crippling as well. I think that these accounts were far too personal for me to just read and shake off. As I said, I was made incredibly uncomfortable by the honesty of sad, lonely, mourning people. That says something for the way that our culture deals with those who are not up to par with how they "should" feel or cope wih their feelings. It is hard to know what an even so jarring will ilicit. As Sedaris puts it "You can't brace yourself for famine if you've never known hunger" (119). Death isa complex mystery, and its ramifications are equally unknowable.